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Is it Absolutely True That There is No Absolute Truth?
“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” -Gloria Steinem
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” -George Orwell
How many of us have read or heard someone say that there is no absolute truth? How many of us have heard or been taught that truth is relative? i.e. that what is true for me is true and what is true for you is true- that nobody can claim that their ideas, religious beliefs, or moral values, are superior to others, because their is no absolute truth. I once heard of a professor who taught a class at a University in Los Angeles, CA that began her classes by saying that no ideas would take precedence over other ideas because there was no truth. She was emphatic about being tolerant of all views to the point of calling them equally true. She was obviously promoting relativism. A student in one of her classes stood up and remarked, “If there is no truth, then what in the #$^%@! am I here for- if not to learn to discern truth from error.”
Granted, there are lots of different people with different ideas, various kinds of religions, and competing ethical values, and I am a firm advocate that we should respect other points of view and treat their adherents with dignity. However, in our contemporary post-modern world, which has been so heavily influenced by relativism, it is very critical that we stand up for truth. Our culture is so impacted by relativistic ideas that it is difficult for anyone to claim that truth is absolute and even more so to say that they are in possesion of that truth. Those who claim that their worldview is the “the truth” i.e. the best explanation of the world as it really is, in our culture, are labeled arrogant, exclusivist, and intollerant. In fact, the primary reason that Christfollowers are disliked so much in our society is because they are exculsivists. Christfollowers are exclusivists because truth itself is exclusive, and because Jesus claimed to be the “Truth”. There is no way in this brief space that of full case for the existence of absolute truth can be made. Nor is there room to demonstrate that the Christian worldview is indeed the most consistent and comprehensive explanation of reality as it is. But in the space below I will make a few preliminary points.
Let me begin by mentioning one glaring problems with relativism: To make the claim that there is no absolute truth, is itself an absolute claim to the truth…that there is no truth. Are you absolutely claiming that there is no absolute truth? This is obviously self-refuting and thus contradictory. Any proposition that is self-refuting must be false. Truth must exist.
The whole edifice of relativism and the idea that all religions are somehow equally true (despite their contradictory claims) comes crashing down when we understands one simple principle. It is so simple, yet it is at the foundation of all thought, language, ideas, arguments, religions, etc. It is actually a law of thought or logic that cannot be refuted. There are other similar laws, but this one takes precedence. What is it? Since its discovery (and not invention) by Aristotle a few hundred years bc, it has been call the law of non-contradiction. It basically says that P cannot equal not P at the same time or sense. For example. If you exist, you can’t exist and not exist at the same time. Without this law, all of reality would…well lets just say, be unintelligible. If the law of non-contradiction did not exist, we could not even speak. Because the language itself necessitates distinctions and contradictions. Also, the laws of logic (especially the law of non-contradiction) are irrefutable because inorder to refute them, you would have to use them to refute them, and that would be self refutingly false.
Now in regards to religious claims- all religions make “truth” claims about reality. Therefore, We must be on the look out for claims that self-refute or are contradictory. We must also realize that religious teachings are claims about reality itself, and if those claims contradict one another, then they can’t be equally true. It is possible that they are all false, or that one is true, but they can’t all be true simultaneously- if they contradict. For example, Jesus claimed that He was actually God come to earth, Islam teaches that Jesus was just a prophet and to call Him God is blasphemy, and Atheism teaches that their is no God or gods. Which is true? Obviously each of these worldviews can’t be true simultaneously. Again, its possible that none are true, but it is not possible that all are true. Here is another brief example: Lets say that you believe and claim that there is one sun in our solar system, and I say that there are four, and our friend thinks there are ten. If in reality there is only one sun, then your belief corresponds to the way things actually are. Your belief is true truth. Mine and our friends view of reality is false. The same kind of reasoning follows for religious claims.
At this point I could get into a lengthy argument for the existence of God from the fact that truth exists and immaterial laws of logic exist. We must ask- Where did such ordered logic come from? Could it have resulted simply from the random chance of physical matter in motion as is taught by Darwinian Theory and scientific naturalism with no Intelligence to start. I will simply state that not only is it not probable, it is not possible. I will save the argument, however, for another day and leave you with a closing reminder of the truth from John’s gospel chapter 1:
“In the beginning was the Word (Logos/Logic), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”